Rafael Nadal continued to dominate the lowly Vina Del Mar ATP event. In his first tournament seven months, Nadal easily reached the final after stomping on Australian Open quarterfinalist and world No. 26 Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2 today in the semifinals.
Nadal hasn’t lost a set and since dropping the first two games of the tournament really hasn’t been tested, even by Chardy who at least was a Top 30 player. In the final Sunday it figures to be another lopsided result against fellow lefty Horacio Zeballos who looked less than impressive in a win this afternoon over Argentine countryman Carlos Berlocq.
“I played well today, better than the days before, which is important,” Nadal said. “I won’t compare myself to seven months ago, it’s just the first week of competition. It’s a great feeling to be in a final match after so much time without playing.
“Tomorrow, it will be a tough match against Horacio, who is playing great tennis. I hope to keep enjoying myself like I’ve been doing during this tournament and that my physical condition remains good.”
In addition to bidding for a 51st career title in singles (37th on the dirt), Nadal will also seek a rare doubles trophy, his ninth, with Juan Monaco.
In this comeback from a knee injury, so far so good for Rafa.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve been doing this week,” said Nadal. “I have a good feeling on the court. So I cannot ask for anything more. I will try to play better and better every day.”
In Europe, third seed Richard Gasquet continued his torrid run in 2013. The Frenchman is now 13-1 on the year after dispatching Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the Montpellier semifinals. Gasquet will meet countryman Benoit Paire in the Sunday final. The two have never played before.
Just east of France, top seed Marin Cilic clashes with No. 3 seed Jurgen Melzer in Zagreb final. Cilic is the 2009-2010 champion there and seeking a ninth career ATP title. The Croat leads Melzer 6-2 in their head-to-head.
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